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Confession

(2,565 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter | Ohst, Martin | Ivanov, Vladimir
1. Definition and meaningConfession (from Latin  confessio) has been the most common form of the church’s penitential discipline from the early Middle Ages until (to some extent) the present. The German equivalent is  Beichte, from MHG  bigiht, contracted  bīht[e]: “declaration, avowal”. The debate over whether it should be recognized as a sacrament and how it should be formally regulated and practiced by the church became a major bone of contention among the three main Christian religious groups. These differences have had not only…
Date: 2019-10-14

Office

(10,095 words)

Author(s): Carl, Horst | Schmidt, Patrick | Troßbach, Werner | Synek, Eva | Walter, Peter
1. Introduction 1.1. Definition and backgroundEven today the term  office (German  Amt) still covers a broad semantic spectrum that preserves the manifold references and contexts of premodern administrative activity (Government). It extends from the exercise of a specific function through the designation of a territorial administrative district to a local authority or even a building in which lower-ranking administrative bodies are housed. As a result of developments at the beginning of the early modern period, this semantic richness can be documented, for example, in the  Deu…
Date: 2020-10-06

Dogma

(1,175 words)

Author(s): Nüssel, Friederike | Walter, Peter
1. DefinitionThe term  dogma (Greek: “tenet, proposition”) in early modern usage, as in antiquity, the early church, and scholasticism, was used to denote doctrines and opinions of diverse content. The label can be applied to both church doctrines generally accepted as true and to disputed philosophical opinions, and even to Christian heresies. Since the term could definitely have a pejorative sense, it is understandable that until well into the early modern period the Christian theology of the Lat…
Date: 2019-10-14

Moral theology

(1,829 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter
1. DefinitionMoral theology (Latin  theologia moralis) is a subdiscipline within theology, which was becoming increasingly specialized during the early modern period. In the light of faith, moral theology deals with conduct (Ethics) in contrast to cognition (Dogmatics). While the word  moralis [ philosophia] appears already in Cicero, who used it to translate Greek  ḗthos (“custom”;  De fato) and was common in the Middle Ages, the phrase  theologia moralis does not appear until the early modern period (exception: [8. 45 f.]). It first appears in a book title in the lat…
Date: 2020-04-06

Pastoral care

(3,956 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter | Möller, Christian | Schneider, Johann
1. IntroductionPastoral care refers to the assistance church officials (pastors) provide for individuals and groups of the faithful in questions of faith and the religious conduct of life. The  Regula pastoralis (“Pastoral Rule,” c. 590) of Pope Gregory I, the normative guide to pastoral care well into the early modern period, uses the Latin terms  cura pastoralis (“pastoral care,” French  la pastorale) and regimen animarum (“guidance of souls”). The literal Latin equivalent of German Seelsorgecura animarum (“care/cure of souls”), does not occur until the earl…
Date: 2020-10-06

Priesthood

(1,747 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter
1. TerminologyThe English word  priest, like its equivalents in other Western European languages (French  prêtre, German  Priester, Italian  prete), goes back etymologically to Church Latin  presbyter (from Greek  presbýteros, “elder”). Its semantic content varies. In general religious studies and in English translations of the Old Testament, the term  priest denotes a religious specialist or functionary, especially in the sphere of the cult ( priest in the sense of Latin  sacerdos), but the New Testament totally avoids priestly terminology. There the function…
Date: 2021-03-15

Heresy

(1,791 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter | Leppin, Volker
1. DefinitionThe term heresy (from Greek  haíresis, “school (of thought),” “faction”) denotes a serious deviation in the faith (“false doctrine”), resulting in exclusion from the church (Excommunication). The German synonym Ketzerei is derived from the name of the medieval mass movement of the Cathars (Greek  katharoí, “pure ones”), which formed an anti-church in the 12th century and were persecuted relentlessly. Heresy, as a violation of the integrity of the faith by individuals or groups, must be distinguished from apostasy (Greek  apostasía) as “renunciation” of the fa…
Date: 2019-10-14

Dogmatics

(2,905 words)

Author(s): Nüssel, Friederike | Walter, Peter | Wasmuth, Jennifer
1. DefinitionAlthough theologians in the early church like Origen (3rd century CE) engaged  de facto in dogmatics, the term dogmatics itself (Latin  theologica dogmatica, from Greek dogmatikḗ, “teaching regarding the church’s teaching –  dógma – i.e. “theological teaching, doctrine”) did not gain currency until the theology of the 17th century. During the early Enlightenment, J.F. Buddeus was the first to offer a definition, in his encyclopedic introduction to theology (1727) [11]: the term  dogmatics denotes the portion of theology that explains and demonst…
Date: 2019-10-14

Pastorate

(2,146 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter | Weyel, Birgit | Oswalt, Julia | Schneider, Johann
1. To the 15th centuryThe term “pastorate” in English refers to the office of pastor, but the German term Pfarramt encompasses in a kind of personal union both the pastorate and the  rectory or parish house as the administrative center of a parish, which comprises either the faithful within a specific area (territorial parish) or belonging to a specific group (personal parish). (On the etymology of the German words  Pfarrei, “parish,” and  Pfarrer, “pastor,” see [4. 153]).The Christian parish (Congregation) of Roman late antiquity, whose territory was coextens…
Date: 2020-10-06

Sacramentals

(897 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter
Sacramentale (Medieval Latin, from Latin  sacramentum; “pertaining to a sacrament”) is a term first documented in the 12th century to denote actions closely related to a sacrament in the narrow sense – for example, catechesis (Catechism) and exorcism (prayer to expel evil) at baptism – which had formerly been called sacraments; it was already in use by Peter Lombard ( Liber sententiarum, book 4, dist. 6, cap. 7, c. 1150). Since his  Sentences remained the standard theological textbook well into the 16th century, this terminology became established.At the same time, a nuanced…
Date: 2021-08-02

Schism

(1,520 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter | Bayer, Axel
1. SurveyThe term  schísma (cleavage, separation) is a Greek loanword that was taken over untranslated into Church Latin and modern languages. It denotes (1) the process of separating from the church, (2) the resulting status, and (3) the separated group. A schism differs from a heresy in being directed not against the faith but against the unity of the church. Augustine provided a succinct formula around 400: “Schism exists when when someone who shares the same belief and observes the same rites as the others relishes solely the breakup of the community” ( Contra Faustum 20.3). His …
Date: 2021-08-02

Sacrament

(6,920 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter | Walter, Peter | Nüssel, Friederike | Wasmuth, Jennifer
1. Introduction 1.1. General considerationsIn the early modern period, sacraments were part of the religious practice of all Christian churches, albeit with varying emphases and interpretations. Nevertheless, all believed that the celebration and administration of the sacraments, like the proclamation of the word of God, was central to the Christian church, and that sacraments, though performed by human beings, provided a place where the promise of Jesus Christ to be present with his flock was fulfi…
Date: 2021-08-02

Sermon

(4,076 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter | Straßberger, Andres | Felmy, Karl Christian
1. Overview Preaching (from Latin  praedicatio, “proclamation”) denotes public proclamation in the setting of Christian worship. It can be divided into two genres: (1) the homily (Greek  homilía; Latin  tractatus, “speech,” “exposition”), that is, the interpretation of previously read Bible texts (“lections”) – a practice adopted by Christianity from Judaism – and (2) the sermon (Latin  sermo, “speech”), which develops a topic systematically and is based on the church year (Latin  sermo de tempore, “sermon on the season”), the feasts of the saints ( de sanctis, “on the sai…
Date: 2021-08-02

Council of Trent

(1,962 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter
1. Definition and backgroundThe Council of Trent (Latin  Concilium Tridentinum) was the definitive ecclesiastical council (Council [ecclesiastical]) of the early modern period. With interruptions, it met in Trent (Latin Tridentum, Italian Trento) from 1545 to 1563. Its decrees, approved by the papacy, were too late to stem the tide of the Reformation, but it put its stamp on the Roman Catholic Church of the centuries that followed (Confessionalization).When Martin Luther, condemned by the pope in 1520, appealed to a general council to give him justice, he wa…
Date: 2019-10-14

Education

(5,400 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter | Becker, Rainald | Putz, Hannelore | Roggenkamp, Antje | Bryner, Erich
1. General See Childhood; Pedagogy; SchoolPeter Walter2. Late medieval religious education and HumanismDuring the Middle Ages, transmission of at least the rudiments of religious teaching and practice was considered primarily the task of the family. Contrary to the assumption of earlier researchers, however, besides their own religious practice and the preaching of the church (Sermon), there do not appear to have been sermons addressed specifically to children [6. 278]). The tools available to parents included brief written guides, which could be acquired an…
Date: 2019-10-14

Bible translation

(4,210 words)

Author(s): Beutel, Albrecht | Walter, Peter | Bryner, Erich
1. Protestantism The Reformers saw the Bible as the complete, self-evident revelation of God. This meant a rejection of a spiritualistic appeal to additional inner revelations as well as the Catholic view that God has revealed himself equally in the Bible and in Church tradition so that the Bible can only be properly understood and interpreted by ecclesiastical ministers of the teaching tradition (Ministry [ecclesiastical]), and under no circumstances by just anyone. This difference in revelation …
Date: 2019-10-14

Roman Catholic Church

(9,024 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter
1. TerminologyIt was not until the early modern period that the two adjectives Roman and  Catholic were used together to single out the church with Rome as its center from among the confessional churches that emerged after the Reformation. The older of the two (in ecclesiological usage),  Catholic (from Greek  kathólou, katholikós, “universal”), appears for the first time in the 2nd century, in the letter of Bishop Ignatius of Antioch to the church in Smyra (8.2), to distinguish the universal church of Jesus Christ from an individual congr…
Date: 2021-08-02

Mission

(7,623 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter | Huber, Friedrich | Rinke, Stefan | Rüther, Kirsten
1. IntroductionMission (Neolatin  missio, “[act of sending]”; “dispatch”) denotes what was originally an exclusively Christian phenomenon: the active propagation of a religion, Christianity, by annunciation and sacramental incorporation into the church. A distinction is drawn between this “outer mission” ( missio externa) and the “inner mission” ( missio interna) that aims to recruit or recover to the faith people in already Christian countries.The literate religions that existed before and alongside Christianity did spread through migration, like Judaism…
Date: 2020-04-06

Patriarchate

(2,873 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter | Gahbauer, Ferdinand | Kraft, Ekkehard
1. Terminology In ecclesiastical usage,  patriarchate denotes the administrative sphere of a patriarch. Since late antiquity,  patriarch (Greek  patriárches - a compound of  patḗr, “father,” and árchein, “be a commander,” “rule” – originally meaning “clan chief” or “progenitor”) was a title of senior Christian clergy. As early as the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea (325), we can see a regional structure of the church with centers at Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch; they were joined in 381 by the new capital, Constantinople, and in 451 by Jerusalem.These five episcopal sees, …
Date: 2020-10-06

Episcopate

(2,112 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter | Wendebourg, Dorothea
1. Catholicism 1.1. The Catholic episcopateThe word bishop (from Greek  epískopos, “overseer”) denotes (1) in the New Testament a member of a community’s governing body; (2) beginning in the 2nd century, the head of an urban Christian congregation, who governs it with the help of presbyters and deacons; (3) from late antiquity to the present, the head of a sizable district (Diocese), the diocesan bishop. Besides governance of their own dioceses, bishops in the third sense also have responsibilities withi…
Date: 2019-10-14
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